10/24/2015 01:12 EDT | Updated 10/24/2016 01:12 EDT

Jennings throws three TDs, Harris runs for two more as Lions down Tiger-Cats

VANCOUVER — Jonathon Jennings threw three touchdown passes in the first half and Andrew Harris ran in two more late as the B.C. Lions defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 40-13 on Friday night.

With the victory, the Lions (6-10) snapped a two-game slide while maintaining their hold on third in the CFL's West Division.

Jeff Mathews threw two touchdowns for the Tiger-Cats (10-6), but struggled for long stretches against a stout B.C. defence that created four turnovers, including two interceptions by Ryan Phillips.

The Lions temporarily found themselves outside the playoff picture when the Montreal Alouettes defeated the Toronto Argonauts 34-2 earlier Friday, but came up with a big effort after going just 2-7 over their last nine. 

The Alouettes also sit at 6-10 and are battling the Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5-11) for third place in the West by way of the crossover rule. Montreal must finish with more points than both B.C. and Winnipeg to earn the crossover.

After the Tiger-Cats grabbed an early 6-0 lead on Mathews' 64-yard catch-and-run hookup with Luke Tasker that was followed up by a blocked extra point, the Lions forced the visitors into conceding a safety before getting their first big play of the night when Chris Rainey returned a punt 66 yards to Hamilton's 20.

Jennings found Shawn Gore on the next snap to make the score 9-6 after Richie Leone's convert.

The Lions forced their first turnover later in the quarter on Hamilton's 10-yard line when defensive lineman Mic'hael Brooks recovered a Junior Collins fumble after a strip by Zach Minter.

Jennings again struck quickly, finding Emmanuel Arceneaux on the next play to make the score 16-6 with the extra point.

B.C. stretched the lead to 17 early in the second quarter when Jennings found Bryan Burnham on a 46-yard pass to set up Rainey's 25-yard circus TD that included a one-handed grab and a leap into the end zone.

Leone's extra point made it 23-6 and he would add a punt single in the final minute to pad the lead to 18 at the break.

The Lions suffered an embarrassing 52-22 defeat in Hamilton in August and came in having blown late leads the last two weeks, but they didn't look back after halftime and increased their advantage to 27-6 on a 31-yard Leone field goal to open the third quarter.

Phillips then picked off Mathews midway through the quarter before the Lions stopped the Tiger-Cats, who are fighting for first place in the East, on a third-and-short inside the host's 40-yard line.

But Hamilton defensive back Brandon Stewart intercepted Jennings in Tiger-Cats' territory to set up Mathews' 12-yard TD pass to Andy Fantuz that made it 27-13 with the convert.

Neither team could do much on offence from there until the Lions sealed it on a drive midway through the fourth quarter that culminated with Harris' 15-yard touchdown run with 4:17 left to make the score 33-13 after Leone missed the extra point.

Phillips then added his second interception of the night to set up Harris' eight-yard TD run with under two minutes to go.


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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press